Employee-Related Concerns Top of Mind for Mid-Sized Businesses According to a New Report From QBE North America and the Association for Corporate Growth

  • “Risk Management Advice Customized to My Industry or Business” Ranks as Top Need for Reducing Risk Exposure.

Financial, digital, business interruption and pandemic concerns top the list of macro risks for mid-sized business leaders, according to the second annual Mid-Sized Company Risk Report from QBE North America and the Association for Corporate Growth. When analyzing the specific risks, or micro risks, QBE found employee-related issues to be a common theme with six of the top 10 micro risks involving employees.

“In today’s environment, it’s no surprise that leaders we surveyed expressed a variety of worries about their employees,” says Tom Fitzgerald, President of QBE North America’s Specialty & Commercial insurance business. “They’re concerned about how to attract and retain talent, how to keep them healthy and safe, how to pay for the rising costs of employee benefits, and how to combat internal bias and a lack of a diversity framework. They are also concerned about heightened risks of fraud and cybersecurity with so many employees currently working from home.”

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QBE North America’s 2021 Mid-Sized Company Risk Report, produced in partnership with the Association for Corporate Growth (ACG), is based on a survey fielded in August 2021 of executives in a variety of risk management roles at companies with $200 million to $3 billion in revenue from a cross section of industries. Now in its second year, the report discusses the macro and micro risks that most concern mid-sized company executives, whether companies have risk management plans in place to address each of these risks, and their top needs for reducing their risk exposure.

When mid-sized company executives were asked about their top needs for reducing risk exposure, “risk management advice customized to my industry or business” ranked highest at 56%. “Insurance products more customized to my business’s needs” ranked as the second highest at 48%. This desire for customized advice and products may stem from the disparate impact the pandemic and other recent events have had on different companies and industries. Additionally, the percentage of mid-sized companies saying they had unmet needs related to understanding and reducing their risk exposure increased to 67% in 2021 from 58% in 2020. Interest in interacting with an insurer’s loss/risk control department also increased significantly since 2020, with four in five now “very interested” in doing so.

“Mid-sized companies are operating in one of the most challenging risk environments in recent history, and their leaders are becoming more demanding in their approach to risk management. They are seeking customized solutions, a greater understanding of their needs and more interaction with their insurers,” says Fitzgerald. “We are committed to helping our mid-sized business customers and broker partners predict, prepare for, and protect against risks with solutions tailored to their unique situation.”

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Additional 2021 Key Findings

  • COVID is still very much on business leaders’ minds as a top risk, but even after spending 18 months in a global pandemic, fewer than half (46%) of companies surveyed have a mitigation strategy for pandemic-associated risks.
  • Concern about climate change grew significantly as a macro concern since 2020. The research showed that concern about behavioral change and pressure from eco-friendly stakeholders has increased significantly. However, climate change is at the bottom of the list of concerns, and is also the least likely to have a mitigation strategy.
  • Two-thirds of mid-sized businesses have unmet needs related to reducing risk exposure, with “digital assets protection/coverage” (17%) topping the list and “risk management expertise provided by industry” (15%) coming in a close second, both up significantly from 2020.
  • Among the middle to bottom third of the macro risks that respondents cited as most concerning, a gap exists between the level of concern and having a mitigation strategy in place. By contrast, little to no gap exists among respondents’ top concerns, suggesting that mid-sized companies may lack the resources to address all but their most pressing risks.
  • There was a general rise overall in Business Interruption concerns in 2021, with “fragile supply chain risks” and “facility shutdowns” identified as the top micro risks within this category.
  • Regulatory/Legislative risk made the biggest jump of any macro risk, going from eighth in 2020 to sixth in 2021. “Changes in regulations” topped the list of regulatory/legislative micro risk concerns this year (40%), vaulting to the second highest micro risk overall.
  • When looking at Litigation risks, “wage/hour violations” rose significantly as a top concern, perhaps due to companies putting greater demands on existing employees to manage through the labor shortage.

“By documenting the risks facing mid-sized businesses along with gaps in mitigation efforts, this research highlights areas where companies stand to benefit from outside capital and expertise,” says Kathryn Mulligan, Content Director for ACG’s Media Group. “ACG members are dedicated to driving growth in the middle market, and this report’s findings further underscore the vital role for investors, insurers and advisors in helping companies navigate an increasingly complex risk environment.”

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